He ran down the hall and literally jumped into my arms as I stood in the doorway. He wrapped his little legs around my waist, gave me a huge hug and then pointed up to some lights making their way across the dark sky.
I gave him a big kiss on the cheek, said “I love you tons buddy” and then turned to hop into our truck.
As I backed out of the driveway, thoughts of his adorable little face filled my brain and I couldn’t help but think about how much I love being an Aunt. My nephew stole my heart from the beginning. One of the best feelings I’ve ever had was when I used to pick him up and he’d wrap his arms around my neck, put his head on my shoulder and just stay there – for really long periods of time. He just wouldn’t let go and it was awesome.
As parents we think so much about our own kids that sometimes we don’t stop to realize how many other kids play an important role in our lives. Even more importantly, we don’t stop to think about the influential role that we’re personally playing in the lives of other people’s children.
Our nephew is a perfect example. He’s the main man. I’m an aunt to him and him only. He gets all of me. We don’t see each other daily, or even weekly for that matter, but when we do I try to make a conscious effort to give him my time. I ask him questions. I hug him. I tell him I love him. It’s important to me that he knows we’ll always be there for him – that he’ll always have our support.
Many of our close friends have kids who are incredibly special to us as well. One particular couple comes to mind who were the first of our friends to have children. Because we spend a lot of concentrated time with them at the lake in the summers, we’ve bonded pretty closely with their girls and it’s fair to say that I truly and genuinely love them. Similar to our kids and our nephew, I would do anything for them and hope that they continue to feel our love and support throughout their lives. Even though we’re not related by blood, they are family to us.
I don’t think that feeling that way about other people’s children is unusual because I experienced it growing up. We moved around a lot when I was little because my Dad was in the Navy. It was very rare to live in the same city as my own aunts and uncles (a short stint in Grade One and Two) and some of my parent’s friends from the military became like aunts and uncles to my brother and I (one couple we still to this day call ‘aunt and uncle’ even though biologically they are not). These couples played a huge role in my life growing up – they loved me, they supported me, they were interested in me. They, and their kids, are as close as you can get to being family without actually being family.
I feel incredibly blessed to be a real aunt and a ‘pseudo’ aunt. It really does take a village to raise a child and with any luck we’ll be one of the homes in the village that the kids in our lives know they can come to for anything. It may be a hug, to talk, a place to stay or a pizza and a beer later in life – whatever it is, we’ll be there.
Deanna is a Mom of three, wife, marketer and blogger – lover of travel, morning coffee, family time, belly laughs, good friends and uninterrupted showers! Follow her on twitter @DeannaCMiller